Monday, November 26, 2018

Ukiyo -- revisit

Recently I met a friend for lunch at Ukiyo. It has been quite a while since I was there, and the cold days make ramen sound good. I was happy when we got there to see they have sort of condensed the lunch and dinner menu into one and include ramen for both. I love the new small plates format as well. Of course, they still have the full sushi menu, but the rest is focused on shareable plates.

At lunch I had a half portion of the pork shoyu ramen ($9) and my friend the half order of chicken ramen ($9). They also have a vegetarian option, and I love that they offer the half portions, because I think they are plenty big. Plus, then you don’t feel like you’re over ordering if you want to try something else, which we did. The ramen is good—it is not spicy at all but has a nice depth of flavor in the broth. They were both on the mild side, but all the ingredients were tasty—I liked the fact that the slices of pork in mine weren’t fatty and were very tender. The only bad part of the ramen was in my friend’s chicken version. The pieces of chicken suffered from being a little gristly. 

We also had the bacon and cheese okonomiyaki ($10), which was the standout. So glad I ordered this, and the feeling was held by my friend as well. So okonomiyaki are Japanese pancakes made with shredded scallions and cabbage, and I believe some mountain yam was in there. Plus, of course, the bacon and cheese. There was a sauce drizzled on top and bonito flakes. This was the reason that I went back less than a week later with my daughter. That pancake was so tasty. Lots of flavors in there, lots of umami as they say. Seriously, next time you go, give it a try. It is rich though, so you will want to share it.

So at dinner, we ordered it again, and enjoyed it just as much except that it came at the very end of our meal and we had overordered and were getting pretty full. The first thing that came out was their version of tuna tartare called maguro zuke ($16). It is large cubes of tuna with chunks of nagaimo, which is a type of Japanese yam. These chunks are raw and it has a really interesting light and crunchy texture that is a cool contrast to the tuna. Not going to lie though, I would rather have more of the tuna and a little less of the yam. There were also some Chrysanthemum greens. It had a light shoyu sauce, that was maybe just a little light for my taste. I appreciate the freshness of the fish etc., but I would have loved a little more of the salty flavor of the sauce. 

We also had a hot chicken bun to share ($3), which was also quite delicious. I love a good Japanese bun, and this was a good one. The bun itself was really tender and I appreciated that it wasn’t as fat as some I have had, so it had a good ratio of bun to fried chicken. The crispy coating on the fried chicken was so crisp it just shattered when you bit into it. It was coated in a kind of hot honey sauce that didn’t feel ridiculously hot at first but built up in your mouth. Add some pickles, and you have a great little bite. 

We also shared the pork katsu donburi ($14), which I also really enjoyed. The pork was breaded and fried crisp, egg, and these melty sweet soy onions. It was all served on top of steamed rice. A really nice dish with crunchy bits and lots of smooth silky texture as well. It had a good, slightly sweet flavor, but also with the hit of soy. We both really enjoyed this. 
We also felt like we should order a sushi roll as well, since well, it’s a sushi place right? My daughter picked the crab, avocado and salmon roll ($17). The ingredients are some of the freshest around, and I love the actual crab in there—but I guess maybe I am realizing that I like some of the gooey sauces on my sushi. This one had a very light sauce on top, but honestly, it was so light, it isn’t particularly memorable to me. I get letting the fish shine, but I like a little burst of flavor too I guess. Bottom line, I think there’s a lot more flavor in the small plates, and I would probably just stick with that part of the menu on future visits. It is certainly the part of the menu that lures me back in.

All in all, it’s a great addition and I like that we have a lunch and dinner place with such an interesting Japanese menu. I like that you are no longer limited to only ramen for lunch and that you can get ramen at dinner and have more options than just sushi as well. It’s funny, because my first review I thought the sushi was the star compared to the other dishes we had, but now I think my opinion has flip flopped.

I am excited to see how the menu keeps evolving and changing with the seasons. I look forward to checking it out again soon. Let me know your menu favorites.

4907 49th Street
Indy  46205

Monday, November 19, 2018

Foxgardin Family

I should have written this post ages ago, but we kept going back before concerts, and before I knew it I had been three times and had written about it never. So I will do my best to keep it brief, but we went to several concerts this summer at Ruoff/Kilpsch/Deer Creek and I was looking for somewhere to grab dinner beforehand that would take a reservation and was not a chain. Difficult in this neck of the woods. And the food at Ruoff? Well it’s appalling. Hey, Guy Fieri is not my thing but at least those burgers they had there a few years back were edible. 

Anyhow, I stumbled on Foxgardin, which is actually a good option location-wise. It in a location that you can stay off of 37/69 too much and avoid that awful traffic (seriously, you northsiders, I don’t know how you do it). And it’s a quick 5-10 minutes into Ruoff after. And they give concert-goers a discount off the bill. 

We went with the kids a few times and alone once and have tried a lot of things. Highlights were the tomato and burrata salad they had at the end of the summer which featured nice, ripe Heirlooms. The burger ($12) was also a highlight, and we didn’t discover it until the last visit. It is juicy and cooked to order and has a nice Brioche bun and just the right amount of cheese. The burger was more of a fat-style burger, but not so big that it was ridiculous. The buffalo wings ($9.50) were also solid. A nice amount of kick. They weren’t mind blowing, but tasted good with the burger and salad (hubby and I split the three). The little fried mashed potato balls were tasty as well. They became slowly addictive as you ate them.

Other things that were good, but maybe not quite as good as the burger and salad were the fish and chips—nice batter, but fairly basic, fish and chips. Also, they push their steaks and always have these special prime options. My son has had a regular filet ($27) there and enjoyed it. I don’t think he thought there was really anything that made it mind-blowing, but it was a good, solid steak. Same goes with the fish tacos ($12)—not bad, but not something I would rush to order again.

Several times we have also gotten the pretzel bread with beer cheese and pimento cheese ($11). This is also a family favorite, although I prefer the pimento cheese to the beer cheese (which I think is just a bowl of the beer cheese soup that is also on the menu). The bread is spot on though.

The first couple of time we also had this savory pancake that had some heat and sweetness (I am thinking hot honey?) but it was weird because it looked really ugly the first time, but tasted really good, and looked really pretty the second time and wasn’t as good. So I am not sure which version was the intended version, but it was an interesting dish. 
Pancake 1

Pancake 2
My least favorite things I have had was the buffalo chicken pasta ($9) and the crab cake. The pasta was really big, and for a buffalo chicken flavored dish, it was kind of bland. The carb cake had that all filling, no crab vibe going. We have also had spotty service here. Sometimes it’s great, and on about half our visits, our service was pretty slow.

Overall, you can see it is kind of a mixed bag here, but there are golden nuggets scattered throughout the menu. And I appreciate that they change the menu up regularly and also always have specials. Someone in the kitchen is using some creativity and keeping the menu new and different.  And I appreciate the discount before a concert. It’s probably not a place I would seek out just for a regular dinner out, but it is definitely a place we will go again before a concert. 

This is also a place that I would really like to hear back from you guys on though for possible dishes in the future—what have been your favorite things?

 10410 Olio Road
Fishers, IN  46046

Monday, November 12, 2018


Nesso is the newest Cunningham Restaurant group project in the old Cerulean spot at the Alexander Hotel. It’s pretty new, and I usually try and wait a bit, but the perfect opportunity arose to check it out, so we did. Plus, since we are always on a quest for interesting Italian food, it was quite appealing.

First of all, I was impressed by the effort put into remodeling the interior. I always thought the old Cerulean interior was interesting and modern, but they have certainly improved it in my mind. There’s darker wood, and a much warmer feeling. It still feels very modern though. Our server was attentive, and it was one of the circumstances where it felt like the company had put some effort into staff training. Our server was also knowledgeable about the menu and offered suggestions.

We started with the bread plate ($5) and the bruschetta ($10) for appetizers. They have a nice bread plate with several fresh bread options, including focaccia and sliced Italian bread. They serve the bread with roasted garlic olive oil with a touch of balsamic, as well as butter. The bread plate was well done. We all really liked the bruschetta as well, which included several toppings such as white beans with cheese, wild mushrooms, mustard greens and tomato. It was all on the same plate, but sort of separated by flavors, and every one was good. I enjoyed mixing some of the richer flavors with some of the more acidic flavors from the tomatoes. It was a crowd favorite at the table. We also ordered the grilled artichokes, because they are also a family favorite. They are very good as well and have nice crispy grilled edges. They were heavily seasoned with garlic and herbs and were served alongside a salad of citrus, fennel and red onions with hazelnuts. I enjoyed the freshness of the salad, but I am not sure I loved it with the artichokes. The artichokes were nicely cooked though so that they were tender inside with the charred exterior.

I love love that they have true first course sized pastas. So you can truly make it a first course, or you can have a very light dinner. I love pasta that is interesting, but so often Indy restaurants give you so much of it that it looks unappealing the minute it is set down in front of me because it is just way, way too huge. Our server warned us that they were two-ounce portions, and they are also priced appropriately in my opinion for the quality you get. Hubby and my son had the bigoli ($12), which was outstanding. It is a large spaghetti-like pasta, but thicker and was in a black pepper, egg, parmesan and guanciale sauce. A small amount went a long way, but it was rich and delicious. And a small amount was all you needed. My daughter had the gnocchi ($16) which was also very good. She questioned it a bit because it included pears in the toppings but ended up really liking the combo that also included fried sage, hazelnuts, grana Padano cheese, goat cheese fondue and chicken-focaccia meatballs. The gnocchi were small and somewhat dense but had a nice crisp exterior from being pan-fried. An interesting combos of flavors for sure. For my main dish, I ordered the risotto with a rich broth, lots of parmesan, butter and some foie gras, which was all topped with sliced truffles ($15). Again, I loved the fact that I could order something this rich and decadent, and not regret it because of a massive portion. It was small and just the right amount. Ok, I might have seared the foie a bit and maybe put in a little more, but it was a really tasty combination.

The main dishes at the table were the branzino ($34) (picture shows a half portion that my kids split) and the veal ($28). Both were excellent, and completely different from each other. The fish was light, and the skin was very crisp and a bit salty, which both kids devoured. The sauce was an herb basil aioli and had potatoes, fennel, and lemon. There was also a touch of chili, giving it a hint of spiciness. All the flavors combined together for an extremely well-balanced dish. The veal was on the opposite extreme, extremely rich and extremely hearty. The veal was pan fried and topped with walnuts and gorgonzola cheese, as well as capers and parsley salad. I appreciated the briny kick from these, but hubby thought there was almost a little too much going on for him, and he didn’t think the dish needed all the cheese AND the capers. I thought it was pretty darn tasty though.

We didn’t get any dessert, but I look forward to trying these one of these days, particularly knowing Hattie McDaniels is running the pastry kitchen. All in all, it was one of the better dinner experiences we have had in Indy lately and I hope they continue to grow and succeed. So far, so good as far as I am concerned. 

339 South Delaware
Indy  46204

Monday, November 5, 2018


My son was playing in a tennis tournament in Zionsville, and naturally the first thing I thought was, where could we eat after? I don’t make the trek out to Zionsville that often, so I wanted to make the most of it. We settled on Auberge, which was a place I have been wanting to go for a while. It’s French, with a really classic (but modern) French menu. It was easy to sell my son on it with two words: “steak frites.”

It’s a cute little place set on Main Street in an old house. They have a patio that probably doubles the size of the restaurant, but we sat inside because my son was sort of overheated from all that tennis. It is a cute interior with a lot of wood. Our server was very friendly, but sadly got a little overwhelmed as the meal progressed. 
First, they bring you these little baby bread loaves baked into a little flower pot. The bread was really soft, and it was warm, and they gave you nice soft butter with it. These were very good. Hubby was thrilled they had escargot a la Bourguignonne ($12) as well. If he seems escargot, he nearly always as to order it. They little snails were in a rich herby garlic butter and topped with little balls of puff pastry. They were very French, and very good. Done just right. We also ordered the tuna tartare ($16), which was very good quality hunks of raw tuna. It was mildly seasoned with lemon and olive oil and served over a little salad of diced veggies and topped with a quail egg and saffron aioli. I sort of wished for a bit more of the aioli, or the lemon or something, but it was still very good as the fish itself was great, and it was at least properly salted. 

Hubby loved his duck breast ($28), which was served medium rare, and alongside Dauphinoise potatoes and braised endive with a cherry reduction alongside. A slightly sweet, slightly tangy accompaniment is always good with duck. The potatoes were rich and creamy, and he was very, very happy. My son had the steak frites ($25), his go to at a French place, and was happy as well. The steak was cooked as he wanted it and the lightly truffle flavored fries were nice and crisp. I loved the garlic and tarragon aioli they served with the fries. They do a very nice job with the seasonings.

I was really torn about what to order, and I knew I would get some of the boys’ food, so I decided to try the quiche ($12). It had gruyere and broccoli and a nice rich crust (you get a whole baby quiche, not just a slice). I really enjoyed the well-dressed greens served alongside as well. I like a little tangy bite to go with a rich cheesy thing like quiche, and this one was great. The quiche itself was probably not something I would order again, but I did enjoy it. I have my eye on the croque Madame ($13), which is always one of my favorite things, but I didn’t try this time. 

Overall, I am excited to see a cute place with a classic truly French menu. I think the kitchen is doing a good job making great flavor combos and using high quality ingredients. The downside of this place was definitely the service. We actually wanted to try dessert (profiteroles!), but it was taking so long to get our server’s attention throughout the night, we just gave up. I don’t know if it was because the patio was so busy or what, but the service wasn’t good. I would certainly try again one of these days, because the food was worth it. Hopefully, it was just an off night. Who else has been there? Tell me what you think? I am surprised I don’t hear about this place more…

175 S. Main Street
Zionsville, IN 46077